Robyn DENNY 

 

After national service in the Royal Navy he studied at St Martin's School of Art (1951–54) and the Royal College of Art (1954–57).  After graduating from the Royal College in 1957 he was awarded a scholarship to study in Italy, then taught part-time at Hammersmith School of Art, the Slade School of Art and the Bath Academy of ArtCorsham.

Among the paintings Denny created at the Royal College are rudimentary images of heads, indebted to French Tachisme, with dripped and dribbled paint. These were interspersed with abstract collages and large gestural paintings which display the broad gestures and bold marks of American Abstract Expressionism, exhibited in London in 1956 and 1959. In 1969, he organised an exhibition for the Arts Council on the American artist Charles Biederman, who for over 20 years worked exclusively on vividly coloured abstract reliefs. This experience coincided with a new intensity of colour in Denny's work, shifting from rich, dark harmonies to high, bright contrasts, from a sense of twilight to daylight. In 1981 Denny moved to Los Angeles, but he returned to London in 1986.

In California Denny's painting again changed radically. In the late 1970s, the acrylic ‘Moonshine’ drawings had incorporated scratch marks, leading eventually to a series of large monochrome paintings where a concentrated cluster of scratching rests, with shockingly disruptive impact, on a thin horizontal: a datum line, never a ‘horizon’. The acrylic surfaces are delicate and subtly modulated, constructed from up to 30 layers of pigment applied until it is intensely rich, absorbing the eye and the attention.

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Further Reading 

  • Mellor, David Alan (2002). The Art of Robyn Denny. Black Dog. ISBN 1-901033-33-3.

  • Thompson, David Robinson (1971). Robyn Denny. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-070623-2.